Friday, 8 January 2010

You don't always grit what you want... said Boris Johnson at the Lord Mayor's Dinner for London Government tonight. As our keynote speaker the Mayor (not to be confused with our host, the Lord Mayor) did not disappoint. He commended the 300 or so of us who had made it there, a testimony, he said to London's local authorities keeping roads open, and sharing their limited grit supplies with one another.

He went on to bemoan political name calling, the national shortage of grit and the nay sayers to his bike scheme.   All to the hilarity of the diners. Even Nicky Gavron, former Deputy Mayor broke the occassional smile. Nicky told me later that she was really interested in social enterprise and wanted us to begin an ongoing discussion on how to promote enviromentalism in particular. Reflecting on the speeches with Derek Myers, CEO at Kensington and Chelsea, James Cleverly at the GLA, John O'Brien at London Councils and Robert Gordon Clark, pundit extrodinaire and MD of the London Communications Agency, we all agreed it was a good address and impossible to follow as Merrick Cockell, Leader of K&C and Chair of London Councils, had to. Nonetheless Merrick's task was carried out with aplomb. To be honest I enjoy listening to people talking passionately and proudly about putting London first.

I thanked Boris, who seemed surprised that I enjoyed his address which he said he finished as he ate his meal, and my delightful dinner companions, William Hunt, a heraldic expert who has had at least four careers as far as I could tell,  Nigel Challis from KPMG who was chuffed to hear that they are already working with SEL and Peter Thackway from GLE who I hope to work with this year. Such is the disparity between men and women at this dinner that I was flanked by six men!

Me in my frock

All in all, worth the effort, which incidentally is so much greater than men have to make. Hours of hair, frock and bra stress (who knew there was such a thing as a bra stretcher/truss, that pulls the straps down to enable the wearing of a backless dress!?). I particularly enjoyed the furious post dinner speculation about the election. Too close to call according to most that I spoke too, even Robert Gordon Clark who knows more about London and the people who make it tick than anyone I know, said he had never looked at an election harder to call.

2010 is going to be tough but interesting. We will be awash with politics and I hope a raw demand for enviromental and social solutions that oustrip the rather hesitant toe-dipping we have seen so far. Certainly if the number of people who wanted to talk in greater depth with me about social enterprise at tonight's event is anything to go by, 2010 is going to be a New Year for new solutions.

I hope you had a good New Year. I certainly did, enjoyed a wonderful dinner at my oldest and dearest friend Clare's neighbour's home in Cambridge where 22 people sat down to a fabulous meal, great conversation and the most intensely organised review of the decade I have participated in to date. The collective view was hard to consolidate as the experience of an academic, psychiatrist or lawyer differ significantly, but I was impressed with the effort in not only putting a great meal in front of so many, but also the emphasis on the expression of views, entertainment and the ancient art of conversation. Thanks to Tina and Steve, our hosts, and here's to all of us who want to make 2010 the year things get better for the many and not just a few. I hope we all grit what we want!

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